Kimi no Iru Machi – 01

Haruto is on a class trip to Tokyo to see a baseball game at the Dome, but he’s also trying to meet up with his girlfriend Eba Yuzuki, who had moved to his town and lived in his house. They fell for one another, but she moved back to Tokyo and they are now in a long-distance relationship. Their small meeting window closes and they just miss one another.

Meanwhile, Kanzaki, a friend of Haruto’s who may want to be more, asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend as she meets up with a friend. Their performance is less than convincing, but afterwards, as the train her friend leaves on leaves the station, Eba is on the other side of the track, and sees Haruto holding hands with Kanzaki.

Watching this first of a two-part romance OVA, it occurs to us that nothing in our current watchlist fits quite within this genre. Chihayafuru focuses on karuta most of the time, while Bakuman is a shonen series. Everything else we’re watching right now is either sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, horror, or a combination of those. And while it’s nice to watch just a good ol’ simple romantic story, there were a few issues.

It’s all well and good to put up boundaries for the lead couple – Haruto and Eba, and the episode does a good job of portraying just how much long-distance relationships suck. But Haruto frankly doesn’t have his priorities straight: seeing his estranged girlfriend needs to come before a friggin’ baseball game. Yeah, he’s on a regimented class trip and there are strict rules governing his activities, but that’s no excuse for him ditching her. She’s your girlfriend, you are expected to break the rules a little to be with her. Tokyo is one of the biggest cities in the world. Meeting up with someone requires preparation, coordination, patience, and luck. This isn’t White Album – these people have cell phones. Couldn’t he have asked her how close she was?

Luck and coincidence too often interfere with Haruto and Eba’s reunion. The time he spends pretending to be Kanzaki’s boyfriend is time he should be spending with Eba, his actual girlfriend. Though his poor judgement here frustrates us, it’s clear there’s also something between him and Kanzaki, from the look of the flashbacks that don’t always match up with what they’re telling her friend. But then the series throws one more coincidence at us: allowing Eba to see him holding hads with Kanzaki. She just happened to be right there, in the same station, on a parallel platform.

Of course, we can’t ignore a very important fact about relationships that both White Album and this OVA explore without sugar-coating: sometimes there are circumstances that are just plain out of our control. Sometime’s it’s not his fault or her fault things don’t work out, just a series of little near-misses and misunderstandings and lapses in communication. Long-distance relationships aren’t impossible, but they aren’t for everyone, and they require a certain degree of tolerance with uncontrollable circumstances. They also require focus on a singular goal. Haruto got sidetracked.

Rating: 6 (Good)